How to avoid falling victim to an apartment rental scam

An apartment rental scam is any situation where a landlord (whether real or an imposter) collects money (application fees, security deposits, etc.) for a rental property he or she has no real authority to rent out. Usually, these people make off with your money, leaving you broke and without a place to live. 

Scam artists who falsely rent out apartments count on your emotional state to successfully dupe you out of your money. Being excited about the apartment or being rushed to find a place quickly can make you more trusting than you’d normally be, and that’s what scam artists look for. You can avoid becoming a victim of these apartment rental scams by recognizing the signs below. 

1. The Landlord Wants Money Before You’ve Even Seen The Apartment

If the landlord wants you to send money before you’ve even met him in person or seen the apartment, it’s a sign the rental isn’t legit. Do not rely on photos or promises – visit the apartment in person before dishing out a single penny. Always. 

2. The Landlord Seems Too Eager

Most landlords conduct credit checks at the very least. Many go further with background and employment checks as well. If the landlord doesn’t seem concerned with doing any verification on you, it may mean he’s more interested in taking your money than renting you an apartment. 

3. The Security Deposit Or Upfront Fees Seem Too High

If the security deposit seems higher than it should be, or other upfront fees seem outrageous to you, it could mean the landlord simply wants to make off with your money. 

4. The Landlord Is Pushy

If the landlord seems too pushy or you feel pressured into renting the apartment, be leery of his motives. 

5. The Landlord Says You Don’t Need An Attorney

While you don’t need an attorney to rent an apartment, and it’s actually in the landlord’s best interest if you don’t use one, if he goes out of his way to tell you that you don’t need one, it should send up a red flag. If the landlord tries to dissuade you from having your attorney review the lease, it’s probably because he doesn’t really own the apartment or has already leased it to another tenant. 

6. There’s No Lease

Month-to-month tenancies are very common, so you don’t necessarily need a lease to live in an apartment. However, if the landlord tries to take money from you without discussing the possibility of a lease, it could mean he doesn’t even have one to show you.

7. There’s Always An Excuse

If the landlord always has an excuse for why he can’t meet you or isn’t able to show you the apartment, take it as a warning sign and look elsewhere for a place to rent. It’s very likely he doesn’t even own a rental to show you and is just out to get your money instead. 

If you’re looking for a new apartment, be sure to keep the above signs in mind to avoid falling prey to an apartment rental scam.